Insights // Talking Shop

I got a bad review! Now what?

Last updated October 19, 2017

Bad reviews are inevitable. 

Dealing with them can be a huge pain and oftentimes demoralizing for a small business owner. 

Over time, while performing social media and reputation management for our clients, we've come up with a few guidelines on responding online reviews.

A good offense is the best defense

A best practice is to keep building up positive reviews.  The few bad ones will seem insignificant.

This is easier said than done. Oftentimes, when we work on social media and reputation management with our clients, we often help develop campaigns aimed at gaining more positive reviews from customers. Lots of postive reviews is also excellent social proof. 

Respond to every review and comment.

What many people miss when doing reputation management is how you respond to a review makes a huge difference. This is just as important to a potential, future customer as the review itself. 

Most customers know there's 2 sides to every story. If the business' response is reasonable, then the situation is extinguished, especially if the customer was actually being unreasonable.

But, many businesses don't even respond or respond the wrong way by getting defensive... or responding months later. 

Big mistake. We try respond to every single review, positive or negative, within hours of when it was posted. 

Many studies, including this one from Search Engine Watch, have shown that customers are expecting responses quickly, some as quickly as within the hour! 

Responding to the irrational

You never want to try to reason with a customer or tell them they're wrong. The customer is always right—at least online

The goal of reputation management is to satisfy their response, not get into a "pissing match" over what actually happened. We generally try to defuse the situation and move on.

We've seen businesses write extremely defensive responses telling the customer they are wrong or being unreasonable. A better strategy is to acknowledge their issue and try to get them to contact the brand if they haven't already or escalate an already existing support ticket.

Oftentimes, some people just want to vent and be heard. And there's not a whole lot you can do in these situations.

Customer service starts before the review

You can't predict what will happen with every interaction, but you can prevent certain actions from taking place.

What is the lifetime value of one of your customers? The is an important metric that many business owners and markets don't even know but should know.

For every 1 person who writes a negative review, 10 more will see it. Social media spreads like wild fire.

If you were unwilling to refund a customer and they call you on it, what is the lost opportunity cost to your business? 

As an example, many small businesses are quick to hold onto every dime. But if your average lifetime value of a customer is, say, $600 and you are unwilling to refund them $30 for a simple mistake, how many sales were lost because of it? 

You'll never know.

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